How to Feel Like the Incredible Hulk in 2009


The above video is of my presentation at the Entertainment Gathering, titled “How to Feel Like the Incredible Hulk.” In a short 17 minutes, I explain exactly how I conquered fears of swimming, language learning, and ballroom dancing by questioning “obvious” guidelines and dogmatic teaching.

I explain three approaches (first principles/assumptions, material over method, and implicit vs. explicit) you can immediately apply to your own lifelong goals, or lifelong fears, to become the new-and-improved you in record time in 2009.

This is one of my favorite presentations I’ve ever done. Perhaps because it was so short! Special thanks to Terry Laughlin of Total Immersion for the photographs of swimming biomechanics.

For students of Japanese, the closest equivalent to the featured kanji poster that I could find online is here.

I hope you enjoy the talk as much as I enjoyed giving it!

Other Presentations from the EG

Dozens of presentations were mind-blowing but few are online at this point. Here are two I found hysterical (makes my OCD look normal) and brilliant (makes me look like a knuckle dragger), from Adam Savage of Mythbusters and the superhuman intellect Amory Lovins, respectively:

Before you watch Amory’s video, read this abbreviated bio – I suspect he is also Batman:

Cofounder and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Amory B. Lovins is a consultant experimental physicist educated at Harvard and Oxford. He has received an Oxford MA (by virtue of being a don), nine honorary doctorates, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood (“Alternative Nobel”), World Technology, and TIME Hero for the Planet awards, the Happold Medal, and the Nissan, Shingo, Mitchell, and Onassis Prizes. His work focuses on transforming the hydrocarbon, automobile, real estate, electricity, water, semiconductor, and several other sectors toward advanced resource productivity. He has briefed eighteen heads of state, held several visiting academic chairs, authored or co-authored twenty-nine books and hundreds of papers, and consulted for scores of industries and governments worldwide. Newsweek has praised him as “one of the Western world’s most influential energy thinkers”; and Car magazine ranked him the twenty-second most powerful person in the global automotive industry.

Posted on: December 28, 2008.

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135 comments on “How to Feel Like the Incredible Hulk in 2009

  1. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing this presentation. I had pick up a few points from you where I can become more effective in life. Thanks.

    Personal Development Blogger


  2. Hi Tim,

    Love the video, but not sure if you’re aware that the last two minutes are cut off. Fora seems to preview the first 15 minutes and there is a Watch Full Video link that doesn’t seem to work.



  3. Tim, Excellent! Thanks for sharing. I find you approach very intriguing and will definitely try to take your advice to heart and apply your methods and approach when taking on life’s and my own personal challenges. Good stuff!

    @Jake – I was able to get the Fora Full Video to work. I had to refresh my browser window once I got to the page to get it to load, but it did.


  4. Great presentation. Thoughtful, concise and well-spoken.
    My mind latched onto your final comment about schools.
    I hope that you, me and all other concerned people come up with the solution for the American public school system soon. It is the most noble cause we have in this country and the greatest investment in a better world.

    My family is filled with teachers and educators and having been around schools my whole life we need a new paradigm. Education is the business of building the future and we need to approach it that way.

    I could go on for days, but instead I’ll just say thanks for putting your mind to the solution and for sharing your expertise with us.


  5. Tim,
    I suppose you just pulled that stuff about Amory off his website. Here are a few fun facts: “educated at Harvard” is not the same as “awarded a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts from Harvard” and “received an Oxford MA (by virtue of being a don)” did not seem to be the same as “earned a Master of Arts in Physics at Oxford.”
    Mr. Lovins entered Harvard in 1964 and dropped out in early fall 1965 “due to some knee problems”. He returned to the school in the fall of 1966, only to drop out less than a year later. His explanation to Harvard Magazine in 2004 was that the reason was “largely because I ignored the normal curriculum structure.”

    After leaving Harvard, he entered Oxford in 1967. In an interview posted published by in April 2001 titled The Pro-Business Nature Boy Mr. Lovins admitted to being equally unstructured at Oxford. Here is how he described his academic career to Damien Cave.

    “I slowly decided to move from academia to activism,” he says. “In 1971 I was doing graduate work in physics at Oxford, and the problems I was working on were interesting, but not nearly as important as the [environmental] ones I was reading about. So it gradually occurred to me that if I wasn’t part of the solution to those problems, I was part of the problem. So I left academic life.”

    Again, that description did not sound to me like there was a graduation and a diploma involved.

    It seems to me that Mr. Lovins, who is famous as a convincing author and energy visionary, probably does not have an academic degree that is the result of following a prescribed course of study in an accredited institution of higher learning. I am not aware of any particular restriction on calling oneself a “physicist”, but I would imagine that most people who use that designation have at least one and probably more formal academic degrees. Honorary degrees do not normally count for much.

    For more information


  6. Hi All,

    Please note: to not get cut off two minutes short, you need to click on the play button, then click again on “watch full program” at the bottom right. Why? That’s a good question for the people.

    Seems like a great way to drive everyone with videos to upload on another video hosting site; and drive your viewers nuts :)

    If anyone finds this video on YouTube , please let us all know in the comments.

    All the best,



  7. Tim,

    Great presentation. I was able to watch the whole video by clicking on the watch full program button.

    I have become quite fascinated by your methods of decronstructing tasks that are challenging to me. I have been learning a new language, and these techniques work well. I imagine they work well in just about any situation. Everything we learn is just a series of smaller tasks or information linked together. It’s amazing what we can comprehend or learn to do if we find a way to make sense of it.

    Also, just wanted to say, great dance moves in the video! ;-)


  8. The full video link worked for me. I know a 5 year that throws things around “Hulk style”. He even has the gloves that make smashing sounds + Hulk roars. The best part is that he really believes he IS Hulk when he has them on. Classic. Maybe you should get some! ;)

    Our educational system is seriously lagging here. Can we tackle health care next? Everything is ridiculously inefficient. What kind of information are you looking for? Curriculum? Models of school systems in other countries? Are you talking about primary education? Or anything that works? Its a great topic. :)


  9. I had to close the browser multiple times and reload, and then jump to where it blew up the last time, but I did get to watch the whole thing.

    This is probably my favorite of all of your talks. Not only do we get to learn a little bit more about you, we see the process of hitting the brick wall and then using strategy and ingenuity to scale it rather than try to crash through it.

    BTW, my friend who speaks fluent Japanese (Sherry who arranged the Tesla ride) said your language skills are off the hook! In Trial By Fire you spoke like a native! Now I understand precisely how you did it. I’ll have to try language again using this technique, because right now all I got is “Muchos Mas Margaritas Por Favor”. :)


    • Hi Tim,
      I know this was eons ago, but would you happen to have an updated link to the Kanji poster you mention or suggestion on how to find it? The link now directs to movie “JCVD” on iTunes.

      Kind regards,
      Don Macfarlane


  10. Enjoyed the presentation, Tim. Very thoughtful especially the piece on public education. The methods you described seem to go well with the show you did on the History Channel. I’d be interested to see how well these skills could be taught and learned. –Gennaro


  11. Hi Tim,

    Very good stuff. I’ve been following the Life-Hacking Revolution for half a year now…it is super interesting.

    Much of what you gave in the presentation is similar to other discussions you have been a part of. The new thing I came away with in this video was the concept that fear is more often a signal of something you SHOULD be doing, rather than SHOULDN’T be doing.

    I am excited to list my fears and conquer them this year.


    Mike Tieden